Change in the City
Bangkok isn’t so much different from Singapore at its core. Both are societies working hard to catch up with their fast evolving country, with many failing, and resorting to living a life of mediocrity and sometimes worse, or take a chance with a less then safe or moral job to keep up.
Browsing past entries in this trove of stories and insights, I can see that Stickman and a bunch of others reminiscing the past often. I don’t believe it is specific to “old” people who do that, just to those who are in a fast changing landscape.
I’m sure Bangkok had much more character than what it does now, replaced with more and more projects, wiping out areas of their “old-world” charm for yet anther modern, Apple-like sterilized looking shopping center with brands we see in every other post-modern condo too expensive for an average local to afford.
The media mar honest messages with capitalistic ideals; work hard and live a decent life, but work harder and get that dream house, car and face lift….but why wait till then? Get a credit card, spend more then you can get what you want now, consequences of eternal debt be damned! You can look dapper now. You can be pretty now. That’s all that matters.
And much is the same for Singapore.
But as they say, out with the old, in with the new. Change is the only constant, and you either adept or wither away with the rest of the old. I live my life with that mantra, I mean, how can’t I, with my income being dependent on the online world! But I start to find myself longing for the days gone past, the yesteryear of a city, culture and people that never will be the same again. I start to wish I had experienced more back then, for now it is all but a collective tale from a generation no longer in its prime.
Change isn’t always necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps it is just a matter of outlook, of how one perceives each change. That’s why it happens. We want to change things for the better, with the caveat being that the “we” doesn’t usually include everyone, and everyone has their own idea of “better”.
And perhaps those changes may be for the better, or at least not as bad as they seem. We as humans are strange that way. We all want things to change but when change comes we tend to have a knee-jerk reaction and instantly reject it without even dipping our toes in to see how it is. And if we do, just a slight change of temperature and we start crying foul.
A friend of mine always say “never try, never know”, and you’d be surprised if you just take the jump and spend just a little time to adept and observe. Who knows? You might find that it isn’t so bad after all!
Keep the past you have experienced firmly in your head and heart as memories to be treasured and shared, but don’t be so firmly rooted in them that anything different is automatically deemed bad. Who knows, the next time the waves of change hits, it may truly be for the worse, and nothing’s worse then the lament of missing out on something when it was there and now gone.
So savor the now, take a BTS and look down at the rustic urban landscape. Head to Yaowarat and absorb the old architecture. Enjoy your favorite roadside food vendor. Stand in front of Nana Plaza and be awed at the neon lights and women of all shapes and sizes. Walk through Soi Cowboy and bask in the atmosphere and sounds as women try to grab you in to their bars.
No matter how young you are, don’t waste precious time being bitter about change that is not to your liking. In a country like Singapore or Thailand where democracy seems like a giant farce, especially with non-locals, and things change regardless of your input, take things as it is or spend your life getting frustrated at the never-ending change happening around you.
Would a day come where Bangkok cleans up, when gogo bars and freelance prostitution become a thing of the past? Would a day come when all the food carts disappear? Perhaps the working ladies all get smart one day, and realize that what they are asking for is much less than in other countries?
For those who are in the know, all these scenarios are not too far from reality, and could really happen some day. And if that time comes, what then? Would one leave in disgust, finding a new paradise in this fast developing world? There is no right or wrong answer, it is, after all, a choice for each individual to make. It is about contentment, and how much is enough. The question is, of course, how much – or little – is enough?
I strive to lead a fulfilling and happy life, be it enjoying a culture, its food or its women. And I found that being anchored in the past, along with having an unrealistic level of contentment, truly is a sad way to live my life. Perhaps it’s a mid-life crisis thing, looking back and realizing “Oh shit, I’m already done with more than half my life!”
Other than thinking about leaving with a stamp on this world, I think equally, or perhaps even more importantly, it’s to really experience and enjoy or appreciate what the world has to offer. Regardless of religion, if any, I certainly would like to have stories of my own to tell in the afterlife, if that truly exists. But that is another topic for another time.
Like a famous martial artist once said, “Be like water, my friend.” Perhaps, he has indeed attained true nirvana in his life, as there is no shorter phase that could describe what I just did in this whole article better.